a deliverywoman knocking on the door

Someone mentions a name and you find their profile on LinkedIn. You are fascinated with their work and expression. You want to connect.

But wait, from the recipient’s view, who’s that knocking on their LinkedIn door and what do they want?

They don’t know you. You are not welcome until you state the purpose of your visit.

How do get their attention, enough to consider you, so you can pursue your request to connect?

That just happened to me. A name came across my Notifications wanting to connect. No information on his part, except the standard bland Linkedin connection request language. From far away. In another industry. No context. And I have no idea who he is or why he is asking. So with no recognition on my part, I am probably going to reject him outright.

But for the sake of this back-to-basics blog post, I sent back a message “How can I help you?” and then came his reply, an excerpt I am quoting here: “I meant to include a note with my connection request but somehow it sent without it.”

LinkedIn hardly did this on its own.

So why didn’t he identify himself and our mutual friend that in the first place and save us both the effort? Before and after that quote I sensed his sincerity and that he just did not know the process to make a LinkedIn connection request more meaningful by adding a note.

That’s OK we all have to learn to tame the LinkedIn beast. I can solve that for him going forward.

My advice: make connections requests meaningful to the intended target by fully identifying any or all of these w-questions: who, what, where, when, –and especially why–to give context and the reason for the connection.

Who are you? What’s in it for the recipient/the requester? When did we meet? Where? Bonus points for: why should I consider you? And how we are connected (outside of LinkedIn) via a mutual friend. Yes, I know “how” is not a w-question…

So here’s how you open the conversation to answer the w-questions above and resolve any mysteries that will likely get you ignored or rejected:

  1. Go to the requester’s LinkedIn profile page. Review it and see whom you know in common, what you share in mutual interests, etc. That can form the basis for your connection request.
  2. If warranted, proceed to click the blue “connect” button in the topmost pane of their profile.
  3. A white box opens to allow you to click a blue button to send the connection request——- STOP!
  4. Resist that and click the other white “add a note” button.
  5. Now, in 300 characters including spaces, identify yourself in your request and make the target person feel more at ease with your reason(s) to connect. Mention names, companies, ideas, industry interests, whatever you have in common. Make it a marketing opportunity by you to get the other person to know you a bit.
  6. Finally, don’t be surprised if they connect with you automatically, which I discourage. See my other past blog posts on that topic.
  7. They may ask for a phone call or a zoom chat to make this a real conversation, not an exchange of electronic sound bites. I encourage that.
  8. Most importantly, remember how to do this and make it routine.

Never ask for a connection without a reason (or a few) why.